Graphical Adventures - What do you like?

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David Michael Tuller

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Oct 29, 1993, 1:34:34 PM10/29/93
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In article <2apdvi$6...@newsserv.cs.sunysb.edu>, fw...@cs.sunysb.edu (.) writes:
|> David Michael Tuller (tul...@cii3116-12.its.rpi.edu) wrote:
|> :I personally don't like the interface (There are going to be flames about
|> Not if you're reasonable.
|> where's my flamethrower? ;)
|>
|> :I'm sure). It is annoying, especially where to have to make the voodoo doll of
|> : LeChuck. Trying to give him the handkerchief took me forever; he would zap me
|> : to another room before I had a chance to complete half the sentence.
|> HAHAHA! me too!
|>
|> you were using the keyboard, weren't you? It took me fooooooreeeeever to
|> give him the hankerchief with the keyboard.
|>
|> Then I go nextdoor, and watch my neighbor try it. it takes him about 2
|> seconds to do it with a mouse. :P
|>

How did he do that? I was using a mouse but I had to keep scrolling through
the inventory. I never even tried using the keyboard.

|> :Sierra's idea of using icons for different actions although it might be
|> Again, I said That their interface might not be so bad in a different
|> environment. I -hated- trying to find the right icon (from walk to pick up)
|> when some bozo would come onscreen and shoot me at any moment.
|>
|> :clicking on "use", then an object,then another object; it takes too much time.
|> :just click on the object then the other object. I especially like the
|> Ah, but that assumes your mouse is currently on 'use'. if not, you need to
|> clickclickclick to use, then click each item.
|>
|> : way you can change icons by clicking the right mouse button no matter where
|> : you are.
|> It's cute, I'll admit. and it does allow for more graphics room. But i
|> hated trying to find a particular icon at the last minute. (i.e. some bad
|> thing just appeard on screen).
|>
|>
|> : 1. Something similar to a Sierra interface using icons but allowing for more
|> : icons.
|> NO. I dunno. I can envision 'click, click, click,' oh, SHOOT. I just passed
|> it. 'clickclickclickclick drat!' etc. especially when you can die any split
|> second.

Maybe if you are given just a little more time...

|>
|> : 2. The icons would also be on the screen (including your inventory) for easy
|> : use.
|> Hi. Welcome to LucasArts. =) Um, I dunno about you, but having both is
|> kinda overkill. maybe not. but with LA, it becomes very natural. I assume
|> it was only so annoying cuz you used keyboard.

Once again, I wasn't using the keyboard. I used a mouse.

|>
|> : 3. The file commands could be accessed by an icon onscreen. (You have to
|> press F5 in Monkey Island 2).
|> yeah, this is nice. however, (1) it takes more screen room. (2) saving
|> shouldn't become so crucial anyway. with LA, you rarely have to save,
|> period. (unless you wanna go to sleep)
|>
|> : 4. Puzzles that are more difficult than Sierra games but are still fair.
|> what do you mean by fair?

You wouldn't have to build a Rube Goldberg contraption (well, at least not a
complicated one :) etc.

|>
|>
|> - Frank Wang
|> fw...@sbcs.sunysb.edu
|>
|>
|>
|>

David M. Tuller
tul...@rpi.edu

Mark T. Price (sg)

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Oct 29, 1993, 5:02:04 PM10/29/93
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dgoo...@crl.com (Daniel C. Goodwin) writes:
> Great commentary! I've heard the sort of annoyance you describe called the
> "what number am I thinking of?" school of game design.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
> Where I lose patience with a game isn't when the puzzles are hard, but when
> it's a guessing game to figure out what the puzzle is. Not entertaining.

This was exactly what I didn't like about the Legend of Kyrandia. It seemed
that the solution to every major puzzle consisted of variations on guessing
the correct order to drop things into other things. Definately _not_
entertaining.
--
Mark T. Price (sg) ma...@godzilla.Quotron.COM
>plan 9 studios< "Bite me, it's fun!" -- Crow, MST 3000

Ben Muckenhoupt

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Nov 1, 1993, 12:58:50 AM11/1/93
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Well, there's been a lot of talk comparing the Sierra and LucasArts
user interfaces, but we seem to be forgetting that neither is a
monolithic entity. We can pick and choose elements from each to form
the Ideal Graphic Adventure User Interface. (I know that some of you
think this is a contradiction in terms, but anyway...)
What are the differences between Sierra and LucasArts user interfaces?

a) Full-screen graphics with pop-up command bar vs. commands on screen
all the time.
I happen to be a fan of full-screen graphics, but LucasArts handles
the split-screen well. Besides, the way Sierra's pop-up menu is handled
means that the area that the menu bar pops up over, in principle cannot
have anything useful or interactive about it. You might as well keep
the menu bar up all the time. (Mind you, there remains the possibility
that someone could think of a better way to handle full-screen
graphics.)

b) Freezing action during command/inventory selection vs. not freezing
action.
Having everything stop so frequently detracts from the sense of
immersion in the game, as well as making things less interesting for
spectators. The only thing wrong with having time pass during command
selection is that it can make time-based puzzles difficult (witness the
outrage over speed-clicking in the end of Monkey Island II), but this
can be solved by either allowing command selection while the game is
paused, or by not including any time-based puzzles.

c) Icons vs. words
Well, everyone has an opinion on this one. I like words better, perhaps
because I am used to text adventures, and think of commands in terms
of sentences. But lots of people don't. A judgement call.

d) Selected action remains selected vs. action must be chosen every time.
The former lends itself well to trying the same action repeatedly on
many different things. This is not how most people solve puzzles. It
would be better to make it easy to try many different actions on the
same thing. While LucasArts doesn't make things easier, Sierra makes
the wrong things easier (i.e., randomly clicking on things.) Another
judgement call.

If I'm missing out your favorite reason why Sierra is superior to
LucasArts, or, what is more likely, the other way round, do not
hesitate to amend this list. Please keep in mind that I am talking
only about the user interface, not the puzzles or the design
philosophy.

From my comments, you can probably see that I find the LucasArts
user interface to be generally superior, but not ideal. Both Lucas
and Sierra rely too much on the generic "use" command; perhaps the
Return to Zork UI will put a stop to this. (Coktel's Gobliiins and
its sequel put a nice twist on the generic "use", by the way: the
personality of the character you're controlling governs what he
thinks the obvious use of an object is. Quite often their choice of
action is not what you intended, but humorous. Give one goblin a
bouquet of flowers and tell him to use it, and he will eat it. This
is, of course, what all Sierra and LucasArts games inevitably do
sometimes, but done deliberately and for comic effect.)

Carl Muckenhoupt

Gerry Kevin Wilson

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Nov 1, 1993, 4:19:36 AM11/1/93
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In article <Nov.1.00.58....@math.rutgers.edu>,
Ben Muckenhoupt <muck...@math.rutgers.edu> wrote:
^^^ Your sig says Carl, dunno if I should change this? Sorry...

>Well, there's been a lot of talk comparing the Sierra and LucasArts
>user interfaces, but we seem to be forgetting that neither is a
>monolithic entity. We can pick and choose elements from each to form
>the Ideal Graphic Adventure User Interface. (I know that some of you
>think this is a contradiction in terms, but anyway...)
>What are the differences between Sierra and LucasArts user interfaces?
>
>a) Full-screen graphics with pop-up command bar vs. commands on screen
>all the time.
>I happen to be a fan of full-screen graphics, but LucasArts handles
>the split-screen well. Besides, the way Sierra's pop-up menu is handled
>means that the area that the menu bar pops up over, in principle cannot
>have anything useful or interactive about it. You might as well keep
>the menu bar up all the time. (Mind you, there remains the possibility
>that someone could think of a better way to handle full-screen
>graphics.)

Well, not to detract from the mouse and menu aspect any, but I always liked
the little text line that popped up in earlier Sierra games. The LucasArts
point at word menu isn't too bad, but I hate having only half a screen of
graphics. Again I say, what's wrong with encouraging literacy in computer
games? I mean, if you don't want to type at all there are better pastimes
(and types of games) that you could play. Puzzle oriented games cripple
themselves when they remove that parser interface. Sure, it provides
simplicity, but just think of all the puzzles it removes from their field
of options. (Remember the old 'say the word' in SQII, a belly chuckler there)
No other medium of communication has been as highly advanced as language, and
since there are currently no markets (large ones) for voice input puzzle
games, stick to the written word. You can put out any argument you want
against the use of text parsers (poor vocabulary, slow, whatever) and I can
come up with a rebuttal (lazy programmer, learn to type, whatever). But
what it boils down to is this....just because a game makes high use of
graphics and sound, doesn't mean it has to cut out the keyboard. The two
are not mutually exclusive, nor should they be. ("But wait", you cry, "You
can use the arrow keys to move the mouse cursor!". Haha, I'm rollin' on the
floor.) Too many people are intent on removing all vestiges of the printed
word from the computer screen, when there's nothing wrong with the printed
word in the first place. That really scares me, the thought that someday,
if the Windows people have their way, computers won't come with a keyboard
anymore, and they won't bother to write 'STOP' in big white letters on those
red octagonal street signs..

[snip] (Deletion of freezing vs. Non-freezing point. Either way is good if
enough time is allowed for the player to act, although I like frozen.)


>c) Icons vs. words
>Well, everyone has an opinion on this one. I like words better, perhaps
>because I am used to text adventures, and think of commands in terms
>of sentences. But lots of people don't. A judgement call.

See the above tirade in support of text parsers (one step past point and click
dictionaries).

>d) Selected action remains selected vs. action must be chosen every time.
>The former lends itself well to trying the same action repeatedly on
>many different things. This is not how most people solve puzzles. It
>would be better to make it easy to try many different actions on the
>same thing. While LucasArts doesn't make things easier, Sierra makes
>the wrong things easier (i.e., randomly clicking on things.) Another
>judgement call.

[snip, oops..1 line deleted, gotta learn this trn program better...]

Well, where would we have been without the 'g' ('again') command in the
Infocom games?

>LucasArts, or, what is more likely, the other way round, do not
>hesitate to amend this list. Please keep in mind that I am talking
>only about the user interface, not the puzzles or the design
>philosophy.

Uh oh.. :) But then, so was I, sorta. I was just favoring taking my mouse
and seeing how much damage a 6 story drop would do to it is all. Really,
I can type faster than I can use a stupid mouse. Maybe I'm just uncoordinated.

>From my comments, you can probably see that I find the LucasArts
>user interface to be generally superior, but not ideal. Both Lucas
>and Sierra rely too much on the generic "use" command; perhaps the
>Return to Zork UI will put a stop to this. (Coktel's Gobliiins and
>its sequel put a nice twist on the generic "use", by the way: the
>personality of the character you're controlling governs what he
>thinks the obvious use of an object is. Quite often their choice of
>action is not what you intended, but humorous. Give one goblin a
>bouquet of flowers and tell him to use it, and he will eat it. This
>is, of course, what all Sierra and LucasArts games inevitably do
>sometimes, but done deliberately and for comic effect.)
>
>Carl Muckenhoupt

No really, I love graphics and sound, but they are NO substitute for good prose
or poetry. (I'm not even an English major, just a bibliophile (look it up)) :)
One game that I've seen that did an excellent job on interface was Alone in the
Dark. But wait, before the screams of outrage roll in, here's an expansion on
that statement. They made it perfectly clear that it was an all-graphic
oriented game I felt from the all mouse/jostick interface, very little pop-up
to get in the way. (Too few actions to make a satisfying puzzle, in the end
they were reduced to the old 'Am I in the right spot' graphic puzzle that we
all hate as much as text adventure mazes.) BUT, (here's my big butt) ;)
They took the graphic presentation of the screen and made it into a work of art.
How many of you immediately saved your game when you saw that room where the
screen looks down on the player as though something in the rafters is staring
at you? I sure did. Gave me the willies. Or how about the rat-vantage-cam
in the closet by the black goo? And on TOP of these really nice screen
interpretations, they added some fun prose in the form of books that you read.
It wasn't pretending to be something it wasn't, and it used the format it wanted
to the fullest extent. THAT is why I liked it, even though it lacked the whole
of the english language (except in those books), it was still treated as art by
those who created it, and not as 'Let's get this sucker out real fast and make
lots of money <insert weinerized laughter>'. That's all I ask for in a game,
art. It can be textual (Infocom, pre-Prativision), graphical (Alone in the
Dark), or audial (Loom, another fine adventure, and look, by one of the old
Infocom masters...no surprise on my part.) Whoa, now what was I talking about
anyways? Oh well, I had a point, and I presume it's in there somewhere, so I
think I'll 'ramble' along now.
--
*=== If there's one thing I've learned in this silly old thing called ===*
*=== Life, it's....umm....oh Hell, I've forgotten. ===*
*=== whiz...@uclink.berkeley.edu ===*
*=== Disclaimer: I am insane. Deal with it. ===*

.

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Nov 1, 1993, 5:06:04 AM11/1/93
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Ben Muckenhoupt (muck...@math.rutgers.edu) wrote:
: a) Full-screen graphics with pop-up command bar vs. commands on screen
: all the time.
: means that the area that the menu bar pops up over, in principle cannot

: have anything useful or interactive about it.
Interesting. I never thought about this before. I have a tendency to
forget that Sierra's menu bar pops up - would have made things a lot nicer
rather than spazzing out with the right button trying to find the correct
icon pointer.

It could be interactive if it did not require an object. or, after choosing
an action, the action pointer is 'held'. Both interfaces handle it this way.
once you select 'throw' it stays in throw mode until you click on what you
are going to throw.


: someone could think of a better way to handle full-screen graphics.)
One of -the- reasons I am so anxiously awaiting their next game, Sam and
Max hit the road, is because LucasArts is going to use a full-screen mode,
with a pop up menu. It will be very interesting to see how they choose to
do it, and what improvements, if any, it has over the Sierra interface.

: b) Freezing action during command/inventory selection vs. not freezing
: action.
Hrm. I -never- thought about this before. Probably cuz again, I used the
right click method in Sierra, which didn't stop a darned thing.

: outrage over speed-clicking in the end of Monkey Island II)
Now, now. Have you played this game? I ask this because speed clicking was
not the problem here. The problem was moving the cursor fast enough.
Keyboard controls were Sloooooow. Made the 'give the hankerchief' part
almost impossible. With the mouse, though, whoosh, click, whoosh, click.
That's two clicks. hardly counds as speed clicking.

: can be solved by either allowing command selection while the game is


: paused, or by not including any time-based puzzles.

Personally, I don't think this would be any big deal, especially since
they're both supported as I stated above.

: c) Icons vs. words
Has this actually come up? LA has been using pictures for inventories for
their last few adventures. I can't recall what came out before monkey
island II, tho. anyone?

: d) Selected action remains selected vs. action must be chosen every time.
Hmmmm. yeah, I think I'll take selected item. That is rather annoying.

: same thing. While LucasArts doesn't make things easier, Sierra makes


: the wrong things easier (i.e., randomly clicking on things.)

Yes, especially when there are no wrong things in a LucasArts game. This is
one of the key arguments.

: only about the user interface, not the puzzles or the design
: philosophy.
Um, no. that about covers it.

However, I do wish to point out that almost all of the problem lies in the
gameplay, not the interface. I really dislike Sierra games with a passion,
but the gripes I have had about their interface are mainly just the lousy
icing and an already lousy case.

That is the key argument, though you have some points.


- Frank Wang
fw...@sbcs.sunysb.edu

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